The Tuks tennis players certainly made their presence felt during the USSA Tournament in Bloemfontein reaching the final for the second consecutive year.
Although Tuks lost against Kovsies the players still did enough to impress the selectors. Kyla Yelverton, Amy Olivier, Reinhard Pelser and Henco Doman were selected to represent the National USSA-team.
Yelverton who is also the club’s chairperson credited their coaches for their consistent performance during the USSA Tournament.
“Coming second again was, of course, a disappointing, but it was once again a lesson learnt, the team performed exceptionally well throughout the tournament and truly were unstoppable. It was a matter of the other teams trying to beat us every day. That is all to do with hard work. The coaches have done a massive job to prepare us physically and mentally for the tournament.”
Yelverton who is doing her Masters in Information Technology has also begun to compete competitively in South African tournaments. She recently lost out in two finals and nowadays regularly qualifies for the quarter and semi-finals.
“It is exhilarating to see where the next six months go regarding my tennis. The main goal would be to represent South Africa at the World Student Games in Italy next year.”
As to have had the most significant influence on her playing career she said that it is important to acknowledge her first coach Jack Fenwick. He is the one who taught me how to play and helped me to compete at a high provincial level.
“The biggest influence however since I started playing at Tuks is Kobus Botha. He is one of the most knowledgeable coaches I have ever had the privilege of working with and certainly has helped me to escalate my game to a new level where I can be considered for national teams.”
Yelverton admits to being a fan of Serena Williams.
“Serena truly is a player who has undergone so many hurdles in life and has always ended up stronger and better. Being so fearless and strong, never holding back on the court, led to her taking women’s tennis to a whole new level.”
One of the real concerns is the lack of authentic role models in South African women’s sport. Yelverton ascribes it in part to male sports being more followed and watched.
“It will be difficult to change. As a female athlete, it is a matter of being able to go the extra mile to be recognised and also to accept criticism. There is a saying about becoming so good in what you do so that no one can ignore your achievements.
"This might be the secret to changing the perception of women’s sport. I think it is also essential that female athletes should empower and encourage one another. But when all is said and done it is all about keeping on to work harder and harder and never give up on our dreams as success does not come easy.”